Manage a Squash Club? – No thanks! – but spare a thought for the ones who do!
Like many others in the squash fraternity, I manage a squash club – but why? At first sight, you would be forgiven for thinking that anyone wanting to manage a squash club must be just ‘daft in the head’. There’s such a lot of work involved, and anyway, you can play plenty of squash without having to manage a club, can’t you? Why not let someone else do it? Just turn up to play in the league/ladder/competitions that seem to get organized as if by magic – and then disappear again and wait for the results – which also appear ‘automatically’ it seems.
Well, that’s one view. You can play plenty of squash without having to spend any of your time helping to run the events or managing a squash club, but if any of you readers get a chance to become more ‘involved’ in the running of your club I would jump at the chance.
The reason is simple – you get such a lot more out of doing this than you put in. It also improves your squash and let’s not forget without people to run and organize events, so many other players would not benefit from playing in the many tournaments, leagues, ladders etc., that you can help to run.
Get more out of it than you put in?
Yes, it’s true. I can honestly say that the (relatively little) work I do to manage a squash club gives me a whole lot in return. First of all, I am usually one of the first people in the club to welcome new players – this gives me a chance to play them “to assess which division they should start off in” – but really this is just an excuse to play a completely unknown player – and this is an opportunity not to be missed. You learn a lot about yourself when you go on court to play someone who you haven’t even see play.
However, that benefit pales into insignificance alongside the real pleasure of seeing an absolute beginner progress to become a competent player and see the enjoyment they get from this. Usually club management will take on some of the responsibilities around encouraging new players – whether it’s running unofficial coaching sessions or just being around to have a knock-up with new players. To be partly responsible for helping the new players improve and reach higher standards of play – and to see the sheer enjoyment they start to get from the game – is truly rewarding.
It improves your squash?
Why is that? How can helping to organize events help to improve your squash? Well, let’s think about it. One of the responsibilities of club management is to organize events such as competitions. To do this effectively, you have to be aware of your club players’ abilities, especially if you are seeding them for the competition, or encouraging them to enter the right competitions. This means you need to watch them play and critically assess their abilities, strengths and weaknesses – a great skill and useful asset when you are on the court playing against one of them! You start to really watch how players play. This is an absolute necessity when playing competitively – you need to watch your opponents and try to uncover their weaknesses.
Another way in which your playing abilities can be improved when you manage a squash club is establishing a thorough understanding of the rules. When you are the one doing the organizing, often players will turn to you for a better understanding of one of the trickier rules (such as let calls when a player turns, for example). So – you do some reading, you do some research and try to become more familiar with the rules – this makes you a better player, since you can avoid situations when you will be penalized by the referee.
Many other players benefit?
Yes indeed – the most obvious reason for deciding to manage a squash club is that “someone has to do it”. If no one takes on the challenge, and decides that they also want to “manage a squash club”, then everyone loses.
The club I currently manage didn’t even exist a few years ago. I still played squash, but it was very hit-and-miss (excuse the pun!). sometimes I would manage to find 2 or 3 partners to play during a week, and then at other times all my regular partners would be busy and a week would go by without me playing at all. “Why not set up a club” I thought “…. surely it’s not difficult….”.
In truth, it’s not difficult – not at all. Especially now that a lot of the ‘administrative work’ can be done online and/or via email – using websites such as this one. It is time consuming, though, but only as much as you want it to be. I have found in the years I have been doing this that as time goes on, I wanted to do MORE not LESS, to make it possible for more players to get involved and learn the game, to run more competitions……and of course to get more players involved in the running of the club.
So, in case you ever get approached by the people running your club, asking you if you could help out at this event, or could spare some time to spend with some beginners etc., say “yes” – you will be surprised how much you enjoy it!
Finally, for those of you reading this article who already manage a squash club – keep up the great work. I’m sure you probably echo some or even most of what I have written above – but personally I don’t do this because I feel it is an obligation – rather I feel it’s a privilege!